This FA Cup Third Round replay feels like something of a punishment for Jurgen Klopp and his gall in fielding a very youthful side in the first fixture between the two sides.
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It is hard to put a finger exactly on why Liverpool were so poor in their 0-1 defeat to Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-final in midweek. Jurgen Klopp named a strong enough side, but there was a feeling that perhaps the players’ minds were elsewhere; the trip to Old Trafford on Sunday is certainly enough of a diversion to suggest that theory is correct.
We had suspected that Jurgen Klopp might field an experimental side for the FA Cup clash with Plymouth on Sunday, but boy we did not expect the eleven he did put out. The youngest team in Liverpool’s history took to the Anfield turf, and while the performance of the young guns and fringe players was encouraging enough the 0-0 stalemate was a less than satisfactory result.
Life: it gives with one hand and often takes with the other. When Liverpool defeated Manchester City 1-0 on New Year’s Eve, many felt that that was going to be their breakthrough moment; the moment they realised that ‘yes, we are genuine title challengers.’
The festive period is notorious for delivering shock results and surprises, and when Stoke took the lead against Liverpool on Tuesday night even the most optimistic Reds supporter could have been forgiven for thinking ‘oh no, it’s our turn’.
If you’ve ever lost your faith in football – the greed, the commercialism, the lack of soul – then Monday night’s Merseyside derby harked back to the good old days of passion, purity and animalistic tribal warfare. This is what the beautiful game should be every time those 22 players cross the whitewash.
Well, colour us impressed. We fancied Liverpool to beat Middlesbrough on Tuesday, make no mistake, but the scoreline and the domination of the performance took even our optimistic breath away.
Once again, it was basic defensive errors that snatched indignity from victory for Liverpool, and Jurgen Klopp must be having sleepless nights at the thought of the four points lost in his side’s last two outings.
There is probably a large collective of Liverpool supporters that are still stunned into silence the best part of a week later after our demise at Bournemouth on Sunday; it really was one of the most bizarre turnarounds the Premier League has witnessed this term.
It’s fair to say that last week’s encounter with Sunderland didn’t quite go the way that we – and many others for that matter – expected. Okay, so Liverpool enjoyed a comfortable enough 2-0 win, but we expected them to create a hatful of chances against the beleaguered Black Cats and perhaps score three or more.